Life of Anonymous Celebrity Part VI: International Edition

I do not travel well. I travel a lot, but I do it by stirring up an insane amount of nervous energy and then letting that explode all over the airport, bus station, husband, you get the idea. It usually ends in tears. Creating this nervousness is easy because all you have to do is imagine all the things that could possibly go wrong and then follow each thing out to its logical conclusion: this makes the domino effect of wrong-going things clear and seem unavoidable. Hence, the nervous energy. All this energy must be stirred up and expelled by the time the first thing has not gone wrong. So, once I am through security, holding my boarding ticket and passport like a meth addict clings to whatever it is meth addicts cling to, I'm pretty much okay. I'm definitely okay once the airplane takes off, and I remain okay even when the plane starts to do that dippy thing that makes your stomach flip. 

But when you're on the ground, off the bus, out of the train, the whole process must begin once more because well, another whole slew of things could go wrong with the transit process. The taxi driver could be a complete bastard and say he's not going to take you to the hotel you wish (check), the train could leave gasp! on time (check), or you could spend the early morning hours before sunset with your baggage on steps in front of the Ganges because no one is awake to admit you to their hostel (and check). 

All this to say: nervous before the plane takes off. (One time I cried because they hadn't yet posted our gate number for the flight. I was completely undone by the little blank in that row of numbers. ) Not nervous in transit at all. Nervous at the end of the journey that marks the beginning of another one. 

So, anylongestintroductioneverway, we left Bangkok and flew to Nepal. The flight was great and as we flew in over Nepal, the sky was incredibly blue and the world beneath us glowed green and grew mountains. I was in a pure state of bliss as we landed, but when we exited the plane, the nervousness hitched up its britches and got serious. After navigating the visa-issuance line and process, we picked up our luggage and headed out of the airport to find the transportation supposed to be provided for us by the hostel we had booked. We didn't change any money at the airport because the rates were ridiculous and we didn't need a taxi. So we walked out to the parking lot and BAM! 

I have not ever been mobbed before. Except in the tens by small non-intimidating and only mildly annoying Korean children under the age of 7. But on February 28, 2009, I was mobbed. By Nepali taxi drivers. There must have been upwards of 100 stationed outside the airport, milling about the parking lot, standing in large groups, and aggressively surrounding every passenger to exit the airport. Kenny had tried to prepare me for this, but there's just no preparing yourself. So, with nervousness at full capacity and our hostel taxi service nowhere to be seen, I panicked. We had walked out into the parking lot in hopes that the hostel transporters were simply lazy and leaning against a car we couldn't see while carelessly flipping a sign with our names on it. We had been followed by 8 or 9 taxi drivers violating all sorts of personal space rules, even the revised ones I had amended in Korea. They all talked at once and I couldn't understand anything they seemed to be saying. Kenny was also talking to me, asking me what I thought we should do. It was so crazy for me I couldn't think. And so, in true Nervous Traveller fashion, I put my hand over my ears, closed my eyes, and screamed.

Not really a scream. More like a sound that happens when a groan and a shriek get married and procreate. It came up through my belly and echoed in my spinning head before exiting my mouth and falling at my feet utterly inefficient. Nothing had changed except that now the taxi drivers were laughing as they attempted to haggle with us. Kenny probably thought his new wife was losing her mind already and we retreated back into the safety of the airport. (We did eventually find the hostel guy holding a sign with other people's names on it, but he took us anyway. Booking online for a place in Nepal that only has electricity in 4 hour increments means that your booking is often futile.)

So, I know you're all, "Isn't this supposed to be an LAC post? Will there ever be any anonymity or celebrity?" Yes to both. After making it to the hostel, getting settled, and venturing out into Thamel to explore, a young Nepali man yells across the street at me.

"Hey! I know you! Didn't you just get here today?" 
"Um, yes?" 
"Yeah, I saw you. At the airport. You were yelling a lot."
"Well, I wouldn't say a lot."
"Definitely you. I remember your hair. I like this hair. But you were yelling."
"Overwhelmed. I was simply overwhelmed." 
"Well, it's nice to see you again."

He introduced himself and we did, in fact, see him again. He had a nice smile. He wore a business suit. The jacket showed his wrists, his arms too long. And he proved that when you do stupid stuff in the airport parking lot, people are going to remember you. Especially if you're a white girl walking around with dreadlocks. They won't know your name (anonymous), but they'll know who you are (celebrity). 

1 comment:

  1. If this had been me, I would have definitely ended up in a mental hospital! The honeymoon would have ended right then and there!

    Julie Wright


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